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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Description of the Radley house and its surroundings in To Kill a Mockingbird

Summary:

The Radley house in To Kill a Mockingbird is depicted as old, dark, and mysterious, with peeling paint and shutters that are always closed. The yard is overgrown with weeds, and the house exudes an eerie atmosphere that makes it the subject of local myths and children's fears.

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What is the description of the Radley house and its surroundings in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Chapter one of To Kill a Mockingbird introduces us to the story of Boo Radley. Jem and Scout first encounter Dill Harris and tell him all about Boo. Dill is beyond excited about the idea of Boo. The children plot many ways to see Boo. They are consumed with the idea of Boo. Harper Lee's description of the Radley house is so real, you can almost picture it if you closed your eyes.

The Radley Place jutted into a sharp curve beyond our house. Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot. The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard- a "swept" yard that was never swept- where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance.

The description of the Radley place fits perfectly with what the children have made Boo out to be. To them, he is the local ghost story in the town. When the story comes full circle the children will realize that the real ghosts are the people they thought they knew, and the heroes might just turn out to be the 'ghosts' they so long ago created.

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What is the description of the Radley house and its surroundings in To Kill a Mockingbird?

The description of the Radley home is early on in Chapter One.  Lee's characterization makes the house have a gothic feel, and is almost a character in and of itself.  Here is Scout's remembrance of the house and its environs:

The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; form the Radley chickenyard tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the schoolyard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children:  Radley pecans would kill you.  A baseball hit into the Radly yard was a lost ball and no questions asked. 

Scout describes the "closed shutters" on Sunday's, and that the "misery of that house began many years before...". 

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Where and how is the Radley house described in To Kill a Mockingbird?

I can get you started by directing you to some of the places where the novel describes the Radley house.  One significant description occurs in chapter one where the Radley family and house are first introduced.  There is also more description at the begining of chapter six where Dill, Scout, and Jem want to get a look inside the house.  Another significant section is at the end where Scout walks Boo home, and sees his house from his perspective for the first time.

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How is the Radley House described in To Kill A Mockingbird?

In my version of the book, the front of the house is described on page 8, and the back of the house is described on page 52.  The condition of the house helps the children to imagine Boo as a monster.  According to Harper Lee, the front of the house,

"....jutted into a sharp curved beyond our house.  Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot.  The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it.  Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda (porch); oak trees kept the sun away.  The remains of a picket (fence) drunkenly guarded the front yard - a 'swept' yard that was never swept - where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance." (pg 8)

It is obviously a neglected house.  Johnson grass is considered a weed because it grows so fast it can choke out other crops or grass.  Rabbit-tobacco is not a type of tobacco, but a type of daisy that grows wild.  So the yard was filled with weeds and tiny daisies. A picket fence is one that is made of wood and has points on the top.  They are usually painted white.

When Dill and Jem decide they are going to find out what Boo Radley really looked like, they decided to peek inside the windows of the house in the back.  Harper Lee describes the back of the house as,

" The back of the Radley house was less inviting than the front: a ramshackle porch ran the width of the house; there were two doors and two dark windows between the doors.  Instead of a column, a rough two-by-four supported one end of the roof.  An old Franklin stove sat in a corner of the porch; above it a hat-rack mirror caught the moon and shone eerily. " (pg 52)

A Franklin stove is one of those iron stoves that are considered pot-bellied stoves.  Franklin was the manufacturer's name.  You can find a picture of one in images on Google.  Again, the pages I have given are for my version of the book, but you should find the quotes in close proximity

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